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trigger: vibrato

Postby bloke » Fri May 19, 2017 10:53 am

The use of vibrato seems to have been out of favor in (now, seemingly) most schools of brass playing for decades, now...

...yet strings, and woodwinds haven't even hinted at backing away from its use.

...and yes, I'm completely aware that SOME brass players (all euphonium players...many trumpet players) are still using it.

I understand ~not~ using it in block-sound symphonic playing...and not when sustaining foundational chords...and certainly avoiding it when playing chorale passages in symphonies...

...but there are many times - when performing solo lines - it would add a great deal.

- bad execution of vibrato...??
sure, there's bad execution of everything

- overuse of vibrato...??
sure, there's overuse of everything

When I listen to many pretty-good tuba players play tuba solos with piano accompaniment (admittedly, music to which .00000000000001% of all people ever purposely listen), the only "tool" that I hear in many of their musical expression toolkits (again: mostly, in current times) is the adding or taking away of decibels. With ~only~ this tool of musical expression being utilized, one can turn the sound down fairly low on such recordings, and many performed tuba solos begin to sound like animal calls, rather than musical phrases. It's already difficult enough to prevent a tuba from sounding like that, yes? It seems to me that more (rather than fewer) musical expression apparati should rule the day.

' your thoughts...
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby bort » Fri May 19, 2017 11:15 am

Whoa... your tuba has a vibrato trigger? :)
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby kmorgancraw » Fri May 19, 2017 11:26 am

I would say you are spot on. Tubas should almost never use vibrato in ensemble playing but should without question use it on solo rep. Almost nobody wants to listen to a tuba solo as it is, so using vibrato, musically and tastefully, is a good way to add some element of beauty. Vibrato should be musical, not on or off, one speed all the time. Speeding up and slowing down vibrato and pausing vibrato at certain musical moments should be done. When I hear a tuba solo with nothing but changes in decibels, I think "boorrriiinggg." Trumpets, trombones and euphoniums all use vibrato in solos, tubists that don't are being musically lazy.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby hrender » Fri May 19, 2017 12:25 pm

When I took lessons (late '70's) I was told "no vibrato" so I never pursued learning how to do it. In the early '80's I played for a director who asked for it in a soli section, and I realized I had no appreciable ability to do it. Since I picked the horn back up I've worked on my own to do it well. I know earlier generations of players (Bell, Jacobs) used it and taught different approaches to it. For me it's mostly for personal use since I haven't had a request to do it in our community band. It makes solos and etudes much more musical IMO.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Steginkt » Fri May 19, 2017 12:46 pm

I was just having a conversation a few days ago with a rather prominent local trumpet player a few days ago on this very subject. He pointed out that in earlier days of (mostly east coast) american symphonies, block chord playing was expected to have vibrato, most of the players being from europe or the sons of european artists. I wonder at which point of our pedagogy this was phased out?
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Tubaguyry » Fri May 19, 2017 12:53 pm

No vibrato = dead, rudimentary, non-musical tone. Soloists who play this way are automatically hacks to my ears.

I had wondered why so many of the supposedly "top" players coming out these days sound crappy like that. They're being TAUGHT not to play expressively? How sad. I've also noticed that WAY too many players just abruptly come off the end of their notes. There's no "flavor" or "finish" there...the sound just STOPS. Garbage playing. My very first thought when I hear that is that I'd like to instruct the offender to IMMEDIATELY purchase Floyd Cooley's "A Schumann Fantasy" and listen to the whole thing on repeat until he/she understands what a solo tuba is SUPPOSED to sound like.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby bloke » Fri May 19, 2017 2:12 pm

I wonder if many teachers (a subject of another thread in another forum) are afraid to teach - or even suggest - it.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby KyleRichter » Fri May 19, 2017 3:36 pm

For what it's worth, I was taught and encouraged to use vibrato in solo playing by all of my teachers. They each had different ideas on when, why, and how much to use, but never was "no vibrato ever" an option or idea.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Rick F » Fri May 19, 2017 4:06 pm

My teacher/mentor for euphonium was the late Fred Dart. He said then that we euphonium players should use vibrato almost all the time. That may have been correct many years ago, but now I feel we shouldn't use vibrato in ensemble playing - except if we're playing a solo in the group. And then the type vibrato that lends itself to the music. For ballads I like to copy the human voice... adding a little vibrato to the end or back third of the held note. Jazzier pieces, a faster vibrato during solos.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby lost » Fri May 19, 2017 4:48 pm

Maybe someone can give examples in some recordings where a solo line was vibrato-less. I wasn't aware vibrato in solo playing was a trigger amongst brass players or had fallen out of favor.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Jay Bertolet » Fri May 19, 2017 4:48 pm

Bottom line is this:

If you weren't taught how and when to use vibrato, your musical education is incomplete. I am primarily an orchestral player (I can't remember the last time I actually played a solo piece in front of people) and I use vibrato all the time. This notion of only using vibrato in solo pieces is bunk. Strings and winds don't use it in such a limited way, what makes anyone think brass players should?
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby bloke » Fri May 19, 2017 7:11 pm

Jay Bertolet wrote:Bottom line is this:

If you weren't taught how and when to use vibrato, your musical education is incomplete. I am primarily an orchestral player (I can't remember the last time I actually played a solo piece in front of people) and I use vibrato all the time. This notion of only using vibrato in solo pieces is bunk. Strings and winds don't use it in such a limited way, what makes anyone think brass players should?


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Bass players use it constantly, but they play a heckuva a lot more (and - let's face it - a heckuva lot more complete musical phrases) than we do...many phrases which reinforce and/or double the celli ("the baritone horns of the orchestra"). :lol:

Further, bass players' resonance is never "in your face" (as, occasionally, composers wish for ours to be).

I believe there are many more times that it can be used by (more) tuba players in orchestras than it currently is used, but (and no offense meant) the "old school" style of vibrato (no names named) is not something that I would care to bring back.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby pjv » Sat May 20, 2017 8:57 pm

Bottom line; is the use of a vibrato at any given moment functional or not.

Changes per situation. That's the great thing about music; personal choice.

Even in solo situations I may not use vibrato. It all comes down to how I want to "say" something. Sometimes I'll put a tad of vibrato only on one note out of an entire series of phrases just because the music says, "do it here" to me. (less is more, etc)

Since in "our" register the notes are doing already quite a bit of audible vibrations on their own, I find it preferable to prudent with vibrato.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Dan Tuba » Sun May 21, 2017 3:49 pm

I think that developing vibrato and learning how to use vibrato is time well spent. I think that it adds another tool in your toolbox for shaping "musical" phrases. Of course, using the right tool for the job at hand is crucial for success and for maintaing good relationships with your colleagues. I think that spending time listening to how vocalists, string players, woodwind players, and even other brass players use vibrato across varying genres of music is also very beneficial.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby bloke » Sun May 21, 2017 4:43 pm

Dan Tuba wrote:I think that developing vibrato and learning how to use vibrato is time well spent. I that it adds another tool in your toolbox for shaping "musical" phrases. Of course, using the right tool for the job at hand is crucial for success and for maintaing good relationships with your colleagues. I think that spending time listening to how vocalists, string players, woodwind players, and even other brass players use vibrato across varying genres of music is also very beneficial.


well worth a re-post :roll: :wink:
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby pjv » Mon May 22, 2017 7:14 am

My observation has been that vibrato is less of a given and more of a technique outside many of the non-classical styles; avant-garde/modern/experimental, pop, jazz. This also holds true for many singers, sting players and woodwind players (inclu saxophones).
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby marccromme » Wed May 24, 2017 5:10 pm

Vibrato is added color and spice and I would miss it on all music I play - if used with taste.

Today our Brass Band conductor asked the basses (Eb + Bb) to warm up the sound by a small vibrato when accompagniying an Eb horn solo in the piece Demelza. Actually, this was pretty nice.
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Re: trigger: vibrato

Postby Slamson » Wed May 24, 2017 6:45 pm

This topic comes along every so often, and usually I just post the URL from the discussion in 2009. Today, I''m reposting my original thoughts on this. After cutting and pasting in the original text, I would only add that while one of the original posters mentioned that "all trained singers know vibrato", I'd have to say that apparently of the 300+ singers I've recorded over the years, I guess only about 100 of them have been properly trained...

from 2009:
"In my opinion, humble as it is, using vibrato is not a "yes or no" issue - or, for that matter, an "on or off" issue, as the speed and depth of vibrato needs to be taken into consideration for the music at hand.

On top of all that, it's been my experience that most players who "learn" vibrato do so without gaining an understanding of what vibrato is supposed to be. Since I am frequently challenged on this, I'll simply quote from the Oxford Dictionary:

"A wavering of pitch used to enrich and intensify the tone of a voice or instrument; it is practised in particular by wind players, string players, and singers."

I would add that we, as "singers of our instrument", also need to "practise" this wavering, or the result will be tremolo. Young students are especially susceptible to this. I am currently working with a very talented freshman player who, unfortunately, has a vibrato concept that is actually a very intense tremolo, and is having a difficult time learning to play without it. Once the tremolo is taken away (and any vibrato along with it), as Roger notes, the player also becomes aware of intonation problems.

It doesn't take that long to discuss the concept of vibrato with a student. Patiently working with the student to develop tasteful and controlled vibrato (in appropriate instances) is more gradual, but eventually more rewarding."
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